Artist’s plinth protest highlights Nazi death programme


A disabled artist in a Nazi uniform posed in her wheelchair in Trafalgar Square to mark the 70th anniversary of a Nazi programme that led to the murder of a quarter of a million disabled people. 

Liz Crow was taking part in sculptor Antony Gormley’s One & Other project, in which volunteers each spend an hour alone on the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in central London.

Crow began her hour under a white shroud before removing it to reveal the Nazi uniform.

Below the plinth, she was supported by a crowd of disability activists who handed out leaflets explaining why she was dressed as a Nazi.

Crow said she wanted more people to know what happened in the Nazi Aktion T4 programme, which led to the murder of as many as 275,000 disabled people at the hands of German doctors.

T4 became the blueprint for the “Final Solution”, through which the Nazis hoped to wipe out Jews, gay people and other minority groups.

Crow said she also wanted to point out that the values that allowed T4 to happen are present today in the UK.

She said the rise in disablist hate crime, increasing public support for assisted suicide, and more than 340,000 disabled people living in institutions, were proof that “disabled people still experience those historical values as a daily threat”.

After the performance, Crow said she was “delighted” with the public response.

“My job was to grab enough attention to get people asking questions and debating.

“Ordinary people who do not usually engage with these issues have been talking about them as a result of this and that is what it was about. My hope is that those debates will keep going.”

Fellow disabled activist Mat Fraser, the actor and presenter, said: “This is an image to make people stop and look and think.

“There is no room to be complacent. It was ordinary doctors and nurses who voluntarily murdered disabled people and it was ordinary people who stood back and let it happen.”

Resistance, Crow’s moving image art installation that explores the T4 programme, will tour galleries and museums from this autumn.

10 August 2009

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